Dry foods that are healthier for cats

A lot of cats are “dry food addicts” — which is a problem if the food they’re getting is low in quality and nutritional value. The good news is that many cat food manufacturers are now factoring the importance of wholesome feline nutrition into their dry foods.

In an effort to switch our cats to healthier diets, many of us run into a roadblock when it comes to transitioning them away from commercial dry foods. Kitties that have been eating dry food all their lives tend to be particularly averse to trying anything new, especially if it’s not in kibble form. But that doesn’t mean giving up. A growing number of pet food manufacturers are producing high quality meat-based dry cat foods that provide much higher levels of nutrition than those low-end grocery store kibbles. Let’s look at what’s out there.

The move towards better nutrition

Thanks to consumer demand for healthier pet foods, and improved manufacturing technologies, many dry cat foods have made big strides in recent years and are much healthier and more nutritious than they used to be. But poor quality kibbles still exist, so you need to be a smart shopper to ensure you’re getting something that will keep your cat properly nourished.

Read product labels. The best dry diets will contain ingredients such as real meats, fish oil, fresh veggies, fruit and herbs, and no grains, soy, cheap by-products or fillers. Red flags include vague terms like “animal fat” and “poultry by-product meal”, which can cover a wide range of often questionable ingredients.

Superior ingredients

High quality kibbles are also free of all those synthetic colors and flavorings — because they don’t need them! They also have a higher nutrient density and are more digestible; and because they contain fewer cheap ingredients like corn gluten, they are lower in Omega-6s, which when consumed in high quantities can contribute to inflammatory problems such as allergies and arthritis.

Importantly, a growing number of these newer and better dry foods source their ingredients more carefully, turning to domestic farms rather than importing from countries where food quality standards are much lower than they are in North America. Some even go a step further by ensuring their ingredients are GMO-free, organic, or humanely-raised.

Newer processing methods retain nutrition

Most kibble is manufactured using an extrusion process. Newer methods help retain more of the ingredients’ nutrient value than in the past. Traditionally, companies used very high temperatures when producing pet foods, which meant a lot of the nutritional value of the ingredients was destroyed, necessitating the addition of synthetic vitamins and minerals. However, more manufacturers are now cooking their dry foods at lower temperatures and for shorter periods, so vital nutrients are preserved while harmful bacteria are killed.

Gone are the days when all dry foods were a no-no for feline health. Whether or not your cat won’t eat anything but kibble, a good quality, meat-based, low-to-no-carb product made from whole food ingredients, without by-products, grain fillers, or synthetic colors and flavors, is a healthy and nutritious choice.

Shopping list

Here are a few companies that offer healthy and nutritious high quality dry cat food.

Farmina Pet Foods: This company’s N&D Prime formulas for cats (N&D stands for Natural & Delicious) are grain-free, substituting all cereals for animal proteins. These high quality foods feature 70% animal ingredients, including chicken, lamb, and boar, along with vegetables and fruits such as pomegranate, apple, blueberry, spinach and carrot.

Petcurean: Offers several selections of premium dry cat foods. Gather is made from certified organic free-run chicken. The NOW Fresh line boasts 100% market-fresh meat or fish, along with fruits and veggies. Picky eaters or those with allergies can benefit from the GO! SOLUTIONS line, while the company’s SUMMIT Original recipes include ingredients such as chicken, lamb, and salmon, along with vegetables and Omega oils. All diets are free of grains, gluten, artificial flavors and other unwanted ingredients.

Stella & Chewy’s: Their premium, high-protein Raw Coated Kibble is coated with freeze-dried raw chicken or salmon. The Raw Blend recipe combines raw-coated kibble with pieces of whole freeze-dried raw meat, and is available in cage-free turkey, chicken and duck, or wild-caught cod, salmon and tuna. All recipes have meat as the first ingredient, are free of wheat, corn and soy, and contain no artificial colors or preservatives.